Unplug my brake lights every time? Yeah, right! HELP!

I have an 89 Toyota Corolla and the rear brake lights will NOT turn off… ever. To prevent the battery from dying overnight or while I’m at work I have to open the trunk and unplug them before I go inside, then plug them in again before hitting the road.

I’ve done a lot of basic maintenance, but when it comes to electrical systems I don’t know where to start! Any help?

There is a switch on the brake pedal that is probably the culprit. That is what turns on the brake lights. There is very little else in the circuit.

There is also a fuse. It might be easier to pull that than unplug the lights until you get it fixed.

I agree, the brake light switch is almost surely the cause of this problem. Adjust or replace it, as necessary. Pulling the fuse won’t solve the problem.

Thanks fellas - I’ll give it a shot.

So you’ve been driving it around with the brake lights on all the time? That’s very dangerous! Get this fixed before you drive it anymore, unless you want someone crashing into you.

I doubt this is your problem, but your post reminded me of my 1991 Dodge Caravan. Twice, after working well for years, the brake light stayed on after driving, thus draining the battery. I took it in, and there was a recall (or TSB) for the car, but the solution they installed was a stronger return spring on the brake pedal. It was OK with it, but my wife hated that car from that day on due to the excessive (in her mind, anyway) pedal pressure required to stop the car.

have you tried to actually pull UP on the brake pedal?
try that and block the pedal UP so you can go to the back and see if it helps.

if that turns the lights off then the either the switch or the brake pedal spring needs adjusting.

remember that the pedal is setting on (or almost on) the switch all the time. even an inanimate brake pedal gets tired of hanging around all the time and can hit the switch!

If your car has a cruise control, I’ll bet that isn’t working either. When you step on the brakes, this switch also deactivates the cruise control. If the switch is stuck in the on position, the cruise control won’t work. I had this happen on a Ford Tempo. I couldn’t figure out why people were honking at me as they went around me on the interstate. I had realized the my cruise control wasn’t working–when I stopped at a rest stop, I found that my brake lights were stuck on.

You might try the railroad solution. When I used to ride passenger trains in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the train carried a flagman. When the train stopped, the flagman would go to the back of the train and wave a red flag in the rear window. You might carry a passenger in the back seat to do the same thing if you leave the brake lights disconnected.